House Moving 101: How to buy • What does it cost• Where to find your house to be moved 

The purpose of this section is to answer the most common questions about structural recycling and to share with you the results of much trial and error. Hopefully, more people will recycle more structures in the future. Structural recycling saves trees, landfill space, and money.

1 Is House Moving New? 5 How Far is to Far?
2 Why Do People Move Structures? 6 How Big is Too Big?
3 What Do I Look For in a House to be Moved? 7 How Much Does It Cost to Move a House?
4 Can You Move a Two-Story House? 8 How Do I Buy A House to be Moved?
 Free Advice




It seems like a lot of people are moving houses these days, but house moving is not new. The first record of a house being moved is in “The Survey of London” dated to 1598 by John Stow. (Volume 13, No. 2 issue of the Structural Mover) The International Association of Structural Movers just commemorated 400 years of house moving: 1598 to 1998.




Reason One:  The Home or Structure is Historic
If the House or structure to be moved was once owned, lived in, or used by a famous or historically significant person, or community of persons then it is considered  historic.

Reason Two: The Home or Structure is Sentimental

If the house holds sentimental value to someone, i.e., Grandfather was born there, it's “the old home place.” or, conversely, because of negative sentiment or bad memories - “Just get it out of here.”

Reason Three:  To Clear Land

If the structure is in the way of progress, or if it’s not in the plans of the developer or owner. The house may have maple floors, stained glass, crystal doorknobs, high ceilings, charm, character, or may even be rich in history, but it is well worth the developer's money to run a bulldozer through it and haul it to the city dump. Far too often, the structure is demolished when it can be a good candidate for an individual who is looking for a structure to be moved. Remember, this structure may be 2 or 102 years old. Age and condition are often negligible variables in this situation. Examples:


1)  The house or structure does not justify the cost of keeping it because it may not meet city, state or federal code where it sits, i.e., electrical, parking, wheel chair accessibility, fire code, square footage, or floor plan.

2) The house or structure poses a danger to the community, or a possible liability to the real property owner.
3) The house or structure lowers the real property value by the amount of money required to demolish it.
4) The facade or appearance does not fit existing trends or "theme requirements." It just “looks wrong.”
5) The house or structure finds itself to be the property of a city, university, governmental or river authority, etc. .

Reason Four:
The House or Structure is "A Good Deal"

The house or structure to be moved can often be a result of reason three (To Clear the Land). It is important to note, however, that each individual candidate house to be moved, like each individual person wanting a candidate structure, is different. People may base their decision on someone else's experience good or bad. For example, a good deal for the first-time home buyer who happens to be a remodel carpenter, may not necessarily he a good deal for a real estate speculator or vice versa. What makes structural recycling a good deal, typically, is the ever-increasing cost of new building materials.

It is not uncommon for a quality house or structure to be purchased, delivered and leveled for anywhere from 10.00 to 25.00 dollars per foot. Please be aware that there are many variables in these equations. Examples of A Good Deal:
1) Cost - New construction is often cost-prohibitive due to building material costs.
2) Price - A house or structure may be discovered that can be purchased through trade or inexpensively.
3) Real Property Owner - An individual may own a real property in need of a house and have little cash or credit.
4) The “Do-It-Yourselfer” - An individual who has do-it-yourself skills or attitude can find a house or structure in need of repair.
5) Business Owner - A businessperson whose business, or place of business can be improved, if not made by a wonderful old house. “New construction just will not do.” Some examples are: Bed And Breakfast establishments, Antique Stores, legal, dental or medical offices in historic towns or big cities.
6) The Speculator - A real estate speculator with an immediate equity situation (land + structure = equity).
7) Love for Quality - An individual who prioritizes charm and character, but does not have a budget for sometimes-expensive fixture details can often find what they’re looking for in recycled structures. For example, glass doorknobs, wood floors, high ceilings, high gables, choice lumbers, and quality workmanship are often found in older structures. It is for these discerning individuals that structural recycling can be the best deal of all.


Before setting out on the search for a house or structure to be moved, a scope within which to begin a search should be set down on paper. For example, if the intended move were to a city, the lot's size and configuration would be one factor dictating the final decision. Accordingly, the width of the road immediately approaching the destination should be considered. The width of the approach, as well as what sticks up and hangs down on that approach may dictate the size of the candidate house or structure to be moved.  One solution to a narrow road may be an even larger house or structure cut in two.

Establish a scope or range for your search (type, age, style, size or shape). Be aware of true negatives and false negatives:

1) Rotted Seals - Anywhere concrete meets wood, a rotted seal may exist. Quite often, a porch, add-on, or concrete slab abuts the structure. Almost always, this situation traps water, thereby rotting the seals. Many structural movers prefer to replace the seals before re-blocking the structure at its new location. An individual may wish to obtain the material for replacing the seals, and ask their house mover to include that process in the bid. Rotted seals should not be intimidating. In fact, it should be an expected expense in moving a home or structure. Far too often, people mistake rotted seals for a structural problem that cannot be overcome.
2) Floors -  Sagging floors are one of the most misunderstood characteristics of the structure to be moved. An “off level” structure is condemned as irreparable and worthless, ironically by both buyer and seller. An old house is not dead and rigid, but living and breathing. Remember that the candidate house is going to be blocked and leveled when it arrives at its new location. Do investigate why the candidate structure is out of level. Yes, there will be some cracking in sheet rock or plaster on ceilings and walls when the structure is picked up and loaded. Nevertheless, "sagging floors" or the out-of-level house should not be overlooked as a candidate house or structure to be moved.
3) Slab House -  "Can I move a slab house?" Yes. A house or structure with a concrete slab foundation can be moved. While some structural movers prefer not to move slab foundation structures, other structural movers specialize in moving “slab houses”. For example:
A) The slab house can be picked up, moved, and put down on a pre-plumbed, newly poured slab foundation at the new location.
B) The slab house can be picked up off the slab, and a new wooden “floor” and sub-floor can be built under the structure.
In any case, the costs of a new floor, a new slab, and/or location preparations need to be figured into the move. It needs to be determined if it is cost justified to recycle the slab house. Since one is typically dealing with a more modern structure, which may have many existing amenities, the slab house can be one of the highest and fastest equity yielding developments in structural recycling today.
4) The Box House - An older house that was not framed with 2x4 studs in its interior and/or exterior walls, but rather, was built with 1x12 planks is a boxed structure. In some house movers’ opinions, a box structure was in fact structurally sounder than a frame house. Some house movers would prefer not to move a box structure. Some of the most fabulous structures that have been recycled were box structures
5) Racked House - The racked house is out of level and twisted. House movers can use a technique with their trucks and/or cables remove most, if not all of the “rack” from an old house. Further, there are carpentry techniques that can at least cosmetically hide the majority of the appearance of the “rack.” This is an issue for your local house mover.
6) Brick House - A house or structure with a brick exterior can be moved, although the brick exterior may have to be removed before relocating the structure. A buyer may wish to recycle some of the old brick as an exterior wall cover when the structure arrives at the new location. However, new brick may be less expensive to use depending on each individual situation, that is: labor vs. material. Any number of new or used exterior wall cover materials may be used instead of the original brick. Brick houses, like solid masonry structures, have also been moved intact. Individuals must judge what is cost-justified for their particular situation.


Two-story houses and structures are moved all the time, in different ways, according to their structure.  One way is to remove the roof  then put it back on once it reaches its final destination.  Depending on the individual situation, a local house mover of the buyer’s choice will be able to offer more information on such a move.


Structures have been moved cross-country on trucks, floated on barges, and airlifted with a cargo helicopter. If money is not an issue, there is a structural mover that can and will relocate the structure. Therefore, the question is not, "How far is too far?" Rather, "How much is too much?" Distance is but one of several variables in the structural mover's bid. Long distance moves can be more expensive. Bare in mind, however, there are instances when a structure moved across the street has cost many times greater than one being moved across town. Distance is typically only one of the shifting variables in the cost of relocating a house or structure.


Remarkably big structures have been moved: Multi-story hotels, lighthouses, bowlers, ships and water towers. One might ask, "How much is too much?"


Each individual house or structure is different with its own degree of cost and difficulty. Most bids are priced by the “square foot”, though a house mover may choose to charge by the mile. The majority of a house mover's bid is estimating the cost of getting the structure prepared, out of where it is, and into where it is going. Variables that may affect a house mover's bid are as follows:

Distance -  Long distance moves can be more expensive, depending on the structure.
Moving Costs - Ever-increasing costs of insurance, permit and other requirements, i.e., tools, fuel, power line assistance, labor etc.
Scheduling - Certain moves are permitted only at certain times of night or day. House moving can be “seasonal” in some areas. With this in mind, certain times of the year are very busy for house movers, depending on the weather.
Structure size - Typically speaking, the bigger the structure, the bigger the price.
Cutting the Structure -  The structure that must be cut (a cut often means an individual move for each section) is generally more expensive. Thus, more permits, trucks, time etc.
Structure Type affecting labor  - For example, a brick structure may require the removal of its brick exterior. A log cabin may need to be braced and banded with a branding machine. The slab house, the metal frame house etc. may require more labor and time.
Inner City Moves - Among many other variables, the mover may travel 10 miles to move a structure 2 city blocks.
Structure Height - Typically speaking, the taller the structure, the higher the price.
Chimneys and fireplaces -  It is likely that masonry will need to be removed before the structure can be moved, thus increasing the labor cost.


Homework should be done before picking a subject house.



Has a house mover seen the house? If so, what was his opinion?



What is the seller's relationship with the house?



If the seller is not the owner, what is their relationship with the owner? The seller's motive may give at least some insight into pricing.



Has a house mover given a "general bid"? (x number of dollars within x number of miles, if no particular extras are involved.)



Why do they want to move the house or structure? The reason for moving may give you insight into how fast it has to be moved, and/or the reason for the structure's high or low price.



How long has the structure been on the market?



Has the candidate house to be moved been on the market before? If yes, why did the house not sell the first time? Who removed it from the market? Will it be removed again? If so, has the price gone up or down?



Why has it not been moved already?



Does the house have any negatives or problems that you know of?



How much time do I have to move the house?



A house mover may loose three days from his present move schedule for every one day of rain. Also regardless of rain at the structure's location, rain at his present job location can cause a delay.



Has the house been moved before?
If yes, this can give you at least a starting place on move costs.
Once these questions have been answered, if possible, do the following suggestions:



Take photos of the candidate house or structure to be moved. Take measurements of the candidate house or structure (length, width, & height if possible) Note: Measure in two parts for a T - shaped or L-shaped structure. Walk through the structure at least twice. Check for any code or “conformity” regulation at the destination for the structure to be moved. For example, size minimum, exterior, curbs, driveways, etc. Start with subdivision and city.

Some Free Advice  

1. Why move a house?

It's cheaper than new construction and often has better material and workmanship. Your home has sentimental value that can no be replaced. Save up to $10,000 or more in unnecessary demolition costs by relocating or recycling your house. Your house can be moved to a different location on the existing lot to make room for a second house or structure. You can increase the rental or equitable value of your lot by adding a second house or structure.

2. Is there any type of house that cannot be moved?

No, anything can be moved. Financial/value concerns limit the viability of any project. Typically, a wood frame house on a crawlspace or basement that was built to the building code of its day, and is in reasonable condition, is worth moving. Wood framed houses constructed on slabs, brick buildings, and steel buildings can all be moved. Cities and municipalities often demand that certain heritage buildings on a site be moved and restored as part of the development package.

3. Where do we operate?

Thrasher House Moving  primarily provides structural moving in Middle/East Tennessee and South Central Kentucky. We have the ability to move anywhere in the state of Tennessee.

4. How far can we move a building?

We can move anywhere in the state of Tennessee subject to regulations imposed by the Tennessee department of Transportation and local government.
5. Do I need any permits, and how long does this take?

Thrasher House Moving can coordinate and secure all city and state permits necessary to move your house or structure as needed. Most permits can be obtained in under two weeks time.

6. What kind of prep work do I have to do before moving my house?

T hrasher House Moving is a full service moving company. We offer a variety of pre-moving service options including demolition of patios and decks, removal of underpinning and roofs, chimney demolition, and other related work necessary to move the home or structure. Different price packages are available to choose from depending upon your service needs.

7. Do houses ever get damaged while being moved or raised?

With most dry walled houses, you may experience a few stress cracks in the drywall, especially over doorways (but no more than you will see in an average new house that settles). The remedial work is minimal, but you may have to adjust some doors.

8. How much does it cost to raise or move a house?

Although most house movers focus on bidding jobs on a price per square foot basis, Thrasher House Moving realizes that each job is unique and flexibly prices the jobs based on the level of service required by the customer.  For an estimate please Contact Us.